I am speaking about no-fault divorce, of course. Let’s take a look at it with a few articles.
First, let’s take a look at what Jesus says about divorce.
1 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.
2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”
4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,
5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?”
8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
I’ll just link to one study to prove divorce is bad, but everyone knows that.
Now, let Theologian and cultural analyst Al Mohler explain how we got no-fault (unilateral) divorce:
The story behind America’s love affair with no-fault divorce is a sad and instructive tale. As Baskerville documents, no-fault divorce laws emerged in the United States during the 1970s and quickly spread across the nation. Even though only nine states had no-fault divorce laws in 1977, by 1995, every state had legalized no-fault divorce.
Behind all this is an ideological revolution driven by feminism and facilitated by this society’s embrace of autonomous individualism. Baskerville argues that divorce “became the most devastating weapon in the arsenal of feminism, because it creates millions of gender battles on the most personal level.” As far back as 1947, the National Association of Women Lawyers [NAWL] was pushing for what we now know as no-fault divorce. More recently, NAWL claims credit for the divorce revolution, describing it as “the greatest project NAWL has ever undertaken.”
The feminists and NAWL were not working alone, of course. Baskerville explains that the American Bar Association “persuaded the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws [NCCUSL] to produce the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act.” Eventually, this led to a revolution in law and convulsions in society at large. This legal revolution effectively drove a stake into the heart of marriage itself, with inevitable consequences. In effect, no-fault divorce has become the catalyst for one of the most destructive cultural shifts in human history. Now, no-fault divorce is championed by many governments in the name of human rights, and America’s divorce revolution is spreading around the world under the banner of “liberation.”
Baskerville gets right to the heart of the matter, labeling no-fault divorce as a “misnomer.” In reality, the “no-fault” language was taken from the world of automobile insurance. These new divorce laws did not really remove fault from the context of divorce, but they “did create unilateral and involuntary divorce, so that one spouse may end a marriage without any agreement or fault by the other.” As Baskerville explains, “Moreover, the spouse who divorces or otherwise abrogates the marriage contract incurs no liability for the cost or consequences, creating a unique and unprecedented legal anomaly.”
In many cases, the reality is even worse. In effect, no-fault divorce means that the courts now assist the violator of marriage vows. Any spouse can now demand a divorce for any reason and be assured that the courts will award the divorce–and will often grant disproportionate favor to the party seeking the divorce.
As Judy Parejko, author of Stolen Vows, argues, no-fault divorce means that legislators created an “automatic outcome” in issues of divorce. “A defendant is automatically found ‘guilty’ of irreconcilable differences and is not allowed a defense,” Parejko notes.
Researcher Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, author of the influential book, The Divorce Culture, points to the therapeutic seduction of the culture as a contributing factor. “According to therapeutic precepts,” she explains, “the fault for marital breakup must be shared, even when one spouse unilaterally seeks a divorce.”
In other words, no-fault divorce laws actually assume that both parties are equally at fault, since no party could be innocent. The perverse assumption inherent in this argument is that if any individual is unhappy, someone else must necessarily be at fault. Once no-fault divorce became a reality, spouses found themselves simply informed of the fact that their marriage was effectively over. Many of these spouses were not even aware that the marriage was in trouble–and trouble is not even necessary.
Why did all this happen? How could an institution as fundamental and basic as marriage become transformed in less than a decade’s time? Baskerville insists that no-fault divorce laws were not demanded by the public. “No popular clamor to dispense with divorce restrictions preceded their passage; no public outrage at any perceived injustice provided the impetus; no public debate was ever held in the media.” As Baskerville summarizes: “In retrospect, these laws can be seen as one of the boldest social experiments in history. The result effectively abolished marriage as a legal contract. As a result, it’s no longer possible to form a binding agreement to create a family.”
No-fault divorce is worse than same-sex marriage, and there is almost no support among Christians for taking it on, although my view is that both no-fault divorce and same-sex marriage need to be repealed. I don’t know how we are going to fix this unless Christians start to get serious about marrying well, and for the long-term. But more is needed – we have to make it harder for people to get divorced, and harder for people to get money from the government just for having children outside of marriage. We have to shame behaviors that harm children, and shrink government so that men become more indispensable, and staying married becomes more important to women. (over two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women)
And (in response to a comment below) we should be showing young people the benefits of getting married and staying married – not just for children, but for society as a whole. That’s especially true for young Christians in church – in my experience, the men often don’t see marriage as an exciting enterprise that could make a difference for Christ, and the women often think of marriage as something boring to put off for as long as possible. I think one of the great ways of evangelizing the culture is showing them a romantic marriage, a home that is warm and welcoming, and happy, healthy children who are respectful and hard-working.
You can read more in this article about no-fault divorce by Dr. Stephen Baskerville. (The Baskerville that Mohler mentioned)
He covers 5 myths about no-fault divorce:
- No-fault divorce permitted divorce by mutual consent, thus making divorce less acrimonious
- We cannot force people to remain married and should not try
- No-fault divorce has led men to abandon their wives and children
- When couples cannot agree or cooperate about matters like how the children should be raised, a judge must decide according to “the best interest of the child”
- Divorce must be made easy because of domestic violence
I hope this clears up the false charge that people who oppose same-sex marriage do so only because of animus towards homosexuals. There are many reasons to oppose same-sex marriage – religious liberty concerns, concerns about the needs of children, public health concerns, and so on. But social conservatives like me are consistent. We oppose no-fault divorce because it harms children, and we oppose unrestricted welfare for single mothers for the same reason, because it pays people to have fatherless children. There are reasons for socially conservative views, it’s not just “dislike”. Only someone who has never been presented with conservative views by conservative scholars would think such things. But that’s what happens to students in universities – it’s just indoctrination.